Shanty, Multi-tasking, Despair

“Sea shanty,” I thought during practice this morning. “What’s a sea shanty?”

According to wikipedia:

Sea shanties were shipboard working songs. Shanties flourished from at least the 15th century through the days of steam ships in the first half of the 20th century. Most surviving shanties date from the 19th and, less commonly, 18th centuries.

In the days when human muscles were the only power source available aboard ship, sea shanties served a practical purpose: the rhythm of the song served to synchronize the movements of the sailors as they toiled at repetitive tasks. They also served a social purpose: singing, and listening to song, is pleasant; it alleviates boredom, and lightens the burden of hard work, of which there was no shortage on long voyages.

Hey, repetitive muscular tasks! Just like practice! No wonder I thought of it.

Oh, but there was more to it than that. I was welcomed into the livingroom this morning by a big blob of cat barf. Not a 300-pound-man-sized barf, it’s true — but it was a super fragrant barf. Poor cat. We ran out of his usual food, and I had to give him this fancy pants organic stuff that smells reeks of seafood. And which, despite its organic goodness, seems to have made him incredibly sick.

I washed the floor twice. It dried. Practice began.

Aw, crap, it still smelled like one of the clam shacks we used to go to on the east coast. The plank floors in those places are usually thick, creaky, splintery grey wood, swollen with sea air, and fragrant with spilled clam and lobster broth.

It’s actually a lovely smell, except when it’s in my yoga room and I know it came from the cat.


I put up a sign in my office today. It says, “One thing at a time.” My experiment for this week. I am SICK, SICK, SICK of the tyranny of multi-tasking. I am super good at it, but it is really starting to make me miserable.

Ayurvedic theorists ought to take a look at multi-tasking. I am convinced it causes a vata imbalance.


“I’m not getting any better at this,” said The Cop this morning, in reference to his jump throughs.

“You will,” I said. “You probably have to go through a despair stage.”

“How many times?”


13 Responses

  1. A despair stage? How many lifetimes? πŸ˜‰

  2. it took me three years to get a reliable jump through. but i don’t think i ever had a despair stage?

  3. woodman’s πŸ™‚ ?

  4. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Woodman’s!

    Do you go there?

  5. Ocassionally, but we much prefer the Village Restaurant which is just down the street in Essex. Woodman’s gets too crowded and the clam shack ambiance is fun but wears thin after a few visits.

    I knew that you had to mean Woodman’s or the Barking (nee Barfing) Crab in Boston!

  6. Hah, despair stage! Totally. With swing-the-leg-to-the-side, and with Baddha K, and with Kurmasana, and with any forward bend in Janu C, and with, and with, and and and. Hahaha! Yes, the many certainties that “dude, that pose is TOTALLY impossible.” I did a positively TEXTBOOK incarnation of the “stages of loss” in my Ashtanga despair days. Primary wouldn’t be Primary without those. Ah, the memories. Thanks Karen, and thanks also to The Cop!

  7. Okay, Patrick, I think we’re onto something.

    The seven stages of grief:.
    1. Shock or Disbelief (Dude! That’s impossible!)
    2. Denial (I can totally do that. Just not today because of [insert excuse].)
    3. Bargaining (I won’t ever eat dinner again, if only I can bind in marichy D.)
    4. Guilt (God, I don’t deserve to get supta kurmasana.)
    5. Anger (Eff you, UHP!)
    6. Depression (I can’t get out of bed at 4:30 AM. None of this matters anyhow.)
    7. Acceptance and Hope (Someday I’ll do karavandasana!)

    You know what I really miss, Cody? The Union Oyster House in Boston. Time travel back to the 1700s…

  8. I generally jump straight to #5 and stay there. My jump-throughs were worse today because of the wicked rugburn I got doing them last practice; a rugburn which is still weeping and hurts like a sonofabitch.

  9. Haha! You said “wicked”! Cody will like that, because he’s in Boston.

  10. i made all my toes on my right foot bleed the other day when i did a messy jumpthrough. that sucked.

  11. Funny, I am fasting from email until evenings because of the multitasking thing. I shift gears very quickly and easily (fast twitch brain?), but I’m feeling right now like something on a substantive level is leaking out when I do this. Maybe it makes the literal synapses of our brains too much at-the-ready, and this is part of the imbalances. I hope you can organize work and recondition the people around you a bit to get a break from this.

    Cranky, wow. Pain! Cop, also pain. A friend of mine often instructs students to practice jump-throughs on a wooden or tile floor, while wearing socks. To slide through and thus practice keeping the arms super straight. Then stage two is getting full clearance.

  12. hi karen
    i like the seven stages. we’ve all been through them.
    i’ve heard of the method (0v0) describes. i think lasksmi’s The Diver has people try jumpthroughs on the floor while wearing socks.

  13. Hilarious seven stages. I am currently switching between 2 and 3, LOL.

    I once got a NASTY burn on top of my foot while learning to do chakrasana on my LA Teacher’s mahogany floors. I still have the scar……Cop, you are SO FUNNY!!!!!!

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